Metro looking for public input as potentially massive cuts loom

In light of the recent budget shortfalls, Metro is being forced to make tough decisions on operations for the region’s primary transit service. The bus agency is now projecting a $16-plus million operating and capital budget shortfall in 2010 due to the ongoing recession which has resulted in lackluster income tax revenues for the city of Cincinnati – where Metro receives most of its funding.

With these new projections Metro officials are now considering a 20 percent service reduction or some other combination of service reductions and fare increases. The changes will pose major issues for the thousands of residents who use Metro on a daily basis for their travel needs. Acknowledging the potential severity of these cuts Metro is urging its customers to provide comments on the various options they are considering to balance the budget.

  • Metro service: Up to 20% of service reduced
  • Weekend service: Eliminate Saturday and/or Sunday service
  • Base fare: Up to $0.50 increase (Zone 1, City of Cincinnati)
  • Zone fare: Up to $0.25 increase in addition to base fare increase (Zone 2, Hamilton County)
  • Transfer charge: Up to $0.25 increase
  • Monthly passes: Increase monthly pass and Fare Deal sticker prices to reflect fare increases
  • Zone 1 pass discount: Eliminate the $5 monthly pass discount

Metro is also considering two options that would impact service for those riders with disabilities utilizing Metro’s paratransit service.

  • ADA service only: Provide service only at the level required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (Access currently provides limited service to some “grandfathered” customers that goes beyond what the ADA requires)
  • ADA maximum fare: Up to the ADA-allowable fare (twice Metro’s fare for a comparable trip)

If you would like to have your thoughts heard on the matter you can do so in a variety of ways. On Friday, October 2 Metro will be hosting a public comment day at the Duke Energy Convention Center (rooms 237-238) from 7am to 7pm. Metro officials will be giving a brief presentation every hour on the hour, and the public is encouraged to come by at any point during the day to electronically record their comments for the public record.

If you’re unable to stop by between 7am and 7pm on Friday, you can still share your comments with Metro by filling out an online comment form; sending an email to Metro; faxing your comments to (513) 632-9202; filling out a comment forms available on Metro buses, Government Square information booth, and the sales office in the Mercantile Building arcade; or by mailing your comments to Metro at 602 Main Street, Suite 1100, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.

All comments must be received by Oct. 2, 2009 to become part of the official public meeting record and will be considered by the Southwest Ohio Region Transit Authority (SORTA) when deciding on which option to choose.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.